Legal Memorandum: Claim of Prima Facie Tort in VI

Issue: Under the law of the Virgin Islands, what must a plaintiff establish to prevail on a claim of prima facie tort?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Prima facie tort; Injury
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Torts § 870
Date: 04/01/2015

The Restatement (Second) of Torts describes a “prima facie tort” as:

One who intentionally causes injury to another is subject to liability to the other for that injury, if his conduct is generally culpable and not justifiable under the circumstances. This liability may be imposed although the actor’s conduct does not come within a traditional category of tort liability.

Restatement (Second) of Torts § 870; see also Glenn v. Dunlop, 423 Fed. Appx. 249, 255 (3d Cir. 2010) (applying Restatement pursuant to Virgin Islands law).  The Restatement analyzes four factors in a prima facie tort: “(1) the nature and seriousness of the harm to the injured party, (2) the nature and significance of the interests promoted by the actor’s conduct, (3) the character of the means used by the actor and (4) the actor’s motive.”  Restatement (Second) of Torts § 870, cmt. e. 

When alleging a cause of action for prima facie tort, a plaintiff must show the action does not fit within the category of any other tort.  Glenn, 423 Fed. Appx. at 255 (citing Moore v. A.H. Riise Gift Shops, 659 F. Supp. 1417, 1426, 23 V.I. 227 (D.V.I. 1987)); Sorber v. Glacial Energy VI, LLC, No. ST-10-CV-S88, 2011 V.I. LEXIS 34, 11 (V.I. Super. Ct. June 7, 2011) (Carroll, J.); see also Edwards v. Marriott Hotel Mgmt. Co. (V.I.), Inc., No. ST-14-CV-222, 2015 V.I. LEXIS 13 (V.I. Super. Ct. Jan. 29, 2015) (Dunston, J.)) (dismissing prima facie tort claim where plaintiff failed to […]

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